A dismantling study on imaginal retraining in smokers


Imaginal retraining is a noncomputerized variant of cognitive bias modification, an intervention aimed at reducing craving in substance use disorders and behavioral addictions. We conducted a dismantling study to elucidate which of its multiple components are effective and hence essential ingredients of the training and which are ineffective (and hence perhaps dispensable) in reducing craving. We randomized 187 smokers to one out of six conditions that instructed participants to perform a brief intervention. In four of these, participants were instructed to perform isolated components of the imaginal retraining protocol, and in the two other conditions participants either suppressed or simply observed (control condition) the image of a cigarette. Before and after the intervention, participants were asked to rate their level of craving and how pleasant they found three smoking-related images. We examined within-group changes by means of paired t-tests separately across conditions (trial registration: DRKS00021044). Mental distancing from cigarettes (without a corresponding actual physical movement; non-motor retraining) led to a significant decline in craving (paired t-test), which remained significant when compared to the control condition. The effects of other components of the retraining were less consistent. The present study shows that a single therapeutic "dose" of distinct components involved in imaginal retraining can reduce craving for cigarettes. Future trials should investigate the effectiveness of components of imaginal retraining not yet tested (e.g., mood induction) and whether combinations and repetition of single components strengthen or dilute efficacy.

Bibliografische Daten

StatusVeröffentlicht - 02.02.2021
PubMed 33531467